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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Jan 10, 2022

With Ross Douthat, Author and New York Times Opinion Columnist


We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have access to the finest medical care in the world. I have the utmost respect and admiration for our amazing medical professionals. But sometimes, even with our professional healthcare and cutting-edge research, we still don’t have all the answers. This is especially true with newly discovered diseases, patients exhibiting unusual symptoms, or things that fall outside of a standard diagnosis. So what are we supposed to do? Today we’ll find out!


My guest today, Ross Douthat, is a New York Times Opinion columnist, respected author, and fellow podcast host. In 2015 Ross came down with a very mysterious illness which caused him to suffer from a variety of unexplained symptoms. His body felt as if it was constantly under attack; he couldn’t eat, sleep, and his entire body ached as if it was on fire. He lost 40 pounds in 10 weeks and yet all of the medical tests kept coming back negative. So what do you do when the doctors don’t have answers or what they are prescribing isn’t helping? His new book, The Deep Places, documents his five-year journey and ultimate recovery from the chronic illness that defied all medical explanation.


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How was Ross’s life before his illness?
  • How did the symptoms begin?
  • When did Ross first get the diagnosis of Lyme disease?
  • Did the treatment help Ross?
  • Does Ross remember getting bit by a tick?
  • What influenced Ross’s book Privilege?
  • How writing runs in Ross’s family.
  • Was Ross healthy before his illness?
  • How did Ross’s geographic location affect his diagnosis?
  • Did doctors dismiss Ross’s symptoms?
  • Does insurance cover Ross’s treatment?
  • How did Ross’s family react to and get impacted by his illness?
  • Did Ross try any homeopathic approaches?
  • How long did Ross suffer before he got any relief?
  • Is there a chance that Ross’s illness will come back?
  • How did Ross get through the dark times?
  • What would listeners be surprised to learn about Ross?
  • What brings Ross happiness these days?


Today’s Takeaway: At a time when so many people are still recovering from the coronavirus and still exhibiting neurological symptoms months after contracting the virus, our definition of what it means to live with an ongoing chronic illness has changed. We no longer see chronic illness as a unique or rare exception as perhaps we once did. Instead, we now know it is far more common than we might ever have imagined. When the medical professionals may not have the answers or our symptoms fall outside the box, many patients choose to do the research themselves to find other treatment options. We may find relief from our symptoms outside of traditional medicine. Whatever it is that works for you and offers relief is worth exploring. There is no better gift than the gift of a healthy body and a healthy mind. The lesson to be learned from Ross’s experience is that there is hope for someone diagnosed with a chronic illness. Keep trying, keep looking, and it will come. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”



  • “I probably saw 10‒15 doctors in the span of two or three months and none of them had any clear idea of what was going on.” — Ross
  • “If you have one of these chronic conditions where there isn’t an official CDC approved approach to treating it, then they are less likely to be able to help you.” — Ross
  • “I was healthy. I was 35 and I’d had a few things here and there, but I’d never been sick for probably more than a week-and-a-half in my whole life.” — Ross

Brought to You By:

Gardner White Furniture


Mentioned in This Episode:

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat for NYT Opinion 

The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery, by Ross Douthat

Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, by Ross Gregory Douthat